It is our job as basketball officials to recognize illegal contact and to penalize it. The next step is to determine who created or who initiated the illegal contact. Most of the time it is the defense who commits the illegal contact, but not always. Sometimes it is the offense that initiates the illegal contact.

The simple way to determine who initiated the illegal contact is to officiate the defensive player. If the defense has obtained and maintained legal guarding position then the defense cannot be guilty of creating illegal contact.

If the defense initially has two feet on the floor, in-bounds and is vertical any contact that ensues and is illegal had to have been initiated by the offense.

We as basketball officials are often guilty of charging the defender with the foul when the defender was legal and it was the offensive player who created the contact. If you want to be successful at officiating the highest level of basketball you must become good at recognizing that the defender was legal and the offense created the illegal contact.

Remember, that once a defender gets LGP that defender may MOVE to maintain the LGP status. The defender can move any direction but forward. The defender can move LATERALLY, STRAIGHT BACKWARD or OBLIQUELY BACKWARD.

If the contact is on the defender’s torso, if the defender is displaced straight backward or if the offensive player ends up on the floor on top of the defender, these are all good guidelines that the offensive player initiated the contact.

When self-evaluating block-charge plays or any contact play, ask  the question, “What did the defense do wrong?”

In the video clip below the defender establishes LGP in plenty of time, is not moving forward, takes the contact on the torso and is displaced directly backward. Yet, the foul was called on the defender. “What did the defender do wrong?”

At its best, this play should be ruled a charge. If this play were to be ruled a “no call” that would be better than ruling it a block and a foul on the defender.

ray lutz

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